News Worth Noting: Parties agree to new path to advance Klamath Agreement; USFWS awards $5 million in grants to conserve coastal wetlands; Jackson Family Wines and “Russian River Salmonid Life Support Team” receive award; LAO’s Prop 1 handout

Parties agree to new path to advance Klamath Agreement

Agreement-in-Principle Explores Process through Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

From the California Natural Resources Agency:

CNRA_logoToday, the States of Oregon and California, PacifiCorp and the federal government – through the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Commerce – announced an agreement-in-principle to move forward with amending the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA).

Under the agreement-in-principle, the parties to the KHSA will pursue its implementation through the administrative process governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), using existing funding and on the same timeline.  Members of the California and Oregon delegations introduced legislation in the past two Congresses to advance the hard-fought KHSA and two related Klamath agreements; however, the U.S. Congress adjourned last year without acting on legislation to authorize them.

Though the agreement-in-principle focuses primarily on the dam removal portion of the broader pact, it states that the move is an important and necessary first step toward maintaining the broader Klamath settlements.  The states and the U.S. are actively working with all Klamath Basin stakeholders –  Members of Congress, tribes, farmers and others – on a comprehensive resolution to restore the basin, advance the recovery of its fisheries, uphold trust responsibilities to the Tribes, and sustain the region’s farming and ranching heritage.

The agreement-in-principle states the four parties intend to work with each other and the more than 40 signatories to the KHSA in the coming weeks to develop terms of an amendment to the KHSA to implement its key provisions, including providing for facilities removal.  The target date for signing an amended KHSA is February 29.

The KHSA as amended would then be submitted for consideration through FERC’s established processes, which involve public comment. If approved, PacifiCorp would transfer title of the Klamath River dams to a non-federal entity that would assume liability and take the appropriate steps to decommission and remove the dams in 2020.

“The Klamath agreements were the culmination of years of hard work and collaboration across a diverse and committed coalition of parties – and we can’t let that local vision go unfulfilled,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “This agreement-in-principle is an important initial step as we work toward a comprehensive set of actions to advance the long term progress and sustainability for tribes, fisheries and water users across the Klamath Basin.”

“The Agreement in Principle continues the momentum built by those who crafted the original Klamath Agreements,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA considers this the first step along a new path to secure the future of irrigated agriculture and tribal communities, and the fishery. We’ll continue to work in close coordination with all the KBRA parties on a comprehensive plan. Too many people have worked too long to let this historical opportunity slip away.”

“Oregon is moving forward in the Klamath Basin. We can’t afford to sit back and wait for another crisis to batter these communities,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “Congressman Walden took a step forward by drafting legislation late last year, and today’s action is part of a broader movement to work with him and others to get the Klamath Basin agreements back on track.”

“This agreement marks an unprecedented coming together of parties to seek solutions to difficult problems,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird. “California is committed to the implementation of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement and to continued efforts to achieve a broad settlement of the issues that have plagued the Klamath Basin. This is an important first step toward both of those goals.”

“The certainty and protections provided by the Klamath settlement offer a fair way forward for our customers in Oregon, California and beyond,” said Stefan Bird, president and CEO of Pacific Power, a division of PacifiCorp. “PacifiCorp is committed to continuing to work with our partners in the coming weeks and months to advance this important agreement.”

The four PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River are authorized for hydroelectric power generation. Regulations require that the dams need to be retrofitted to provide fish passage for salmon, steelhead and other fish. The Oregon and California public utility commissions found that the original KHSA was a prudent alternative for PacifiCorp’s customers.

The agreement-in -principle is available here.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces over $20 Million in Grants to Conserve Coastal Wetlands

California Projects Awarded Approximately $5 Million

From the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

usfw-us-fish-wildlife_logoU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced over $20 million will be provided to 28 projects in 12 coastal states to protect, restore or enhance more than 10,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. Nine projects located in California will be awarded just under $5 million of this grant funding.

State and local governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute over $20 million in additional funds to these projects, which acquire, restore or enhance coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish and wildlife and their habitats.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Wetlands Grants provide critical funding in the effort to protect some of our most fragile and at-risk wildlife habitats, said Service Director Dan Ashe. “With rising ocean levels eating away at coastal wetlands from one side and development claiming more and more acres on the other, our coastal wetlands are being squeezed into an ever thinner sliver of land. Never before has it been so important to protect these places.”

The program, funded in part through taxes paid on equipment and fuel purchases by recreational anglers and boaters, creates significant benefits for other recreationists and the American public. The billions of dollars generated through recreational angling, boating, waterfowl hunting and bird watching benefit communities in the vicinity of wetlands restoration projects.

States and territories receiving funds are California, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. Click here for the complete list of projects funded by the 2016 grant program.

Wetlands in coastal watersheds in the United States are experiencing a net annual loss of more than 80,000 acres according to a 2013 report by the Service, highlighting the importance of coastal wetland conservation. Conservation of these habitats will not only benefit coastal wetland-dependent wildlife, but will also enhance flood protection and water quality, and provide economic and recreational benefits to anglers, boaters, hunters and wildlife watchers.

“These grants will help coastal communities create on-the-ground projects to make them more resilient and ensure the preservation of our wildlife heritage for future generations,” added Ashe.

The Service awards grants of up to $1 million to states based on a national competition, which enables states to determine and address their highest conservation priorities in coastal areas. Since 1992, the Service has awarded over $377 million in grants under the program.

Examples of the projects receiving grants today are:

UCSB Campus Open Space Vernal Pool Complex

The California Coastal Conservancy will restore 12 acres of rare wetland and upland habitat on the University of California, Santa Barbara’s (UCSB’s) South Parcel, including a six-acre vernal pool complex, back dune swale, vernal marsh and salt marsh wetland habitats. Located within the 652-acre Ellwood Devereux coastal open space area, this project is a component of a larger effort to restore nearly 50 acres of estuarine and palustrine wetlands and 50 acres of transitional and upland habitats on adjacent lands. Vernal pools are declining nationally and recognized locally for their rarity and the unique suite of plants, invertebrates and wildlife that are adapted to them. The project implements important recovery actions for five federally listed species: the endangered tidewater goby, California least tern and Ventura marsh milkvetch; and the threatened western snowy plover and California red-legged frog.

Integrated Restoration in San Francisco Bay

The California State Coastal Conservancy is awarded $500,000 to enhance 100 acres of native habitat as part of a sustainable estuarine system that restores ecological function and is resilient to the effects of climate change. The project will protect the shoreline, minimize erosion and maintain coastal processes while protecting and enhancing habitat for fish, birds and other estuarine species, including the federally endangered California Ridgway’s rail, California least tern and Pacific herring, as well as eight additional special status species, three additional fish species and nine additional coastal-dependent migratory bird species.

Eel River Estuary Preserve Enhancement Project

The California State Coastal Conservancy will restore historical hydrological linkage, estuarine function and aquatic and terrestrial habitat conditions to 227.3 acres of wetlands and associated uplands in the Eel River Estuary at the Eel River Estuary Preserve. Only a fraction of the original Eel River Estuary complex is currently subject to tidal influence, and most of that lies within the Riverside Ranch, across the Salt River from the preserve. The loss of aquatic habitat within the Eel River Estuary has contributed to the decline of salmon and steelhead, tidewater goby, coastal cutthroat trout, longfin smelt and green sturgeon. The estuary is critical habitat for juvenile salmonid species. Restoration of the tidal prism and marsh will restore critical fish passage and nursery habitat.

The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is administered by the Service and funded under provisions of the 1990 Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Funding is provided by Sport Fish Restoration Act revenue – money generated from an excise tax on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels.

More information is available at: http://www.fws.gov/coastal/CoastalGrants/index.html.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/cno. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.

Jackson Family Wines and “Russian River Salmonid Life Support Team” Receives Executive Officer’s Water Quality Stewardship Award by Regional Water Board

Collaborative efforts demonstrate creative solutions to help Salmon survival in Russian River watershed

From Jackson Family Wines:

Kendall Jackson logoIn recognition of progressive achievements in resource conservation, Jackson Family Wines and the recently named “Russian River Salmonid  Life Support Team” received the Executive Officer’s Water Quality Stewardship Award by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board. The award honors partners whose exceptional work contributes to the preservation and enhancement of surface water and groundwater quality.

Jackson Family Wines collaborated with other grape growers and regulatory agencies to implement a series of voluntary drought initiatives (VDI) designed to save water and protect local fish species in the Russian River watershed. The VDI program was initiated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) to address stream flow concerns associated with the California drought.

“We are very proud of our involvement in this critical voluntary initiative and grateful to be acknowledged for our efforts,” said Katie Jackson, Vice President of Sustainability and External Affairs at Jackson Family Wines. “Together, with resource agencies and other landowners, we demonstrated how innovative solutions can have a dramatic environmental impact. The success of this collaborative effort marks a wonderful achievement for the community.”

Jackson Family Wines worked with North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, NMFS, and CDFW to release 7.2 acre-feet of water from the Jackson family’s vineyard reservoir into Green Valley Creek between August and December 2015. This water release helped improve conditions in that tributary, and offered juvenile salmon Coho population a chance for survival through increased water flows and improved water quality conditions.

Jackson Family Wines also worked with Trout Unlimited to establish a program for the purchase of residential tanks. The Jackson family donated $40,000 in seed money to help fund this program to help minimize the need for people living near the stream to draw upon it for water.

About Jackson Family Wines

Jackson Family Wines (JFW) is a family-owned company that crafts award-winning wines of distinct character and quality. With a focus on sustainable viticulture practices, responsible vineyard and natural resource management and unparalleled winemaking, the family’s portfolio comprises more than 30 renowned wineries. In addition to its acclaimed California producers, JFW includes fine wines from France, Chile, Italy and Australia. Founded in 1982 by wine pioneer, entrepreneur and philanthropist Jess Jackson, JFW and its various wineries are led by chairman & proprietor Barbara Banke and the Jackson family. Learn more online at www.kj.com or www.blog.kj.com.

Legislative Analyst’s Office posts report on Prop 1 spending

LAO logoThe Legislative Analyst’s Office has posted the handout from yesterday’s oversight hearing.  The handout has a summary of Prop 1 spending proposed and to date, as well as an overview of the Governor’s budget proposals for Prop 1 spending in the 2016-17.

 

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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